Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment. / McKay, Ryan; Efferson, Charles; Whitehouse, Harvey; Fehr, Ernst.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences, Vol. 278, No. 1713, 22.06.2011, p. 1858-1863.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Published

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Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment. / McKay, Ryan; Efferson, Charles; Whitehouse, Harvey; Fehr, Ernst.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences, Vol. 278, No. 1713, 22.06.2011, p. 1858-1863.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Harvard

McKay, R, Efferson, C, Whitehouse, H & Fehr, E 2011, 'Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment', Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences, vol. 278, no. 1713, pp. 1858-1863. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.2125

APA

McKay, R., Efferson, C., Whitehouse, H., & Fehr, E. (2011). Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences, 278(1713), 1858-1863. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.2125

Vancouver

McKay R, Efferson C, Whitehouse H, Fehr E. Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences. 2011 Jun 22;278(1713):1858-1863. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2010.2125

Author

McKay, Ryan ; Efferson, Charles ; Whitehouse, Harvey ; Fehr, Ernst. / Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences. 2011 ; Vol. 278, No. 1713. pp. 1858-1863.

BibTeX

@article{e8d097da5121464c97017abfbaf4c1f3,
title = "Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment",
abstract = "Recent evidence indicates that priming participants with religious concepts promotes prosocial sharing behaviour. In the present study, we investigated whether religious priming also promotes the costly punishment of unfair behaviour. A total of 304 participants played a punishment game. Before thepunishment stage began, participants were subliminally primed with religion primes, secular punishment primes or control primes. We found that religious primes strongly increased the costly punishment of unfair behaviours for a subset of our participants—those who had previously donated to a religious organization. We discuss two proximate mechanisms potentially underpinning this effect. The first is a {\textquoteleft}supernatural watcher{\textquoteright} mechanism, whereby religious participants punish unfair behaviours when primed because they sense that not doing so will enrage or disappoint an observing supernatural agent. The second is a {\textquoteleft}behavioural priming{\textquoteright} mechanism, whereby religious primes activate culturalnorms pertaining to fairness and its enforcement and occasion behaviour consistent with those norms. We conclude that our results are consistent with dual inheritance proposals about religion and cooperation, whereby religions harness the byproducts of genetically inherited cognitive mechanisms in ways that enhance the survival prospects of their adherents.",
author = "Ryan McKay and Charles Efferson and Harvey Whitehouse and Ernst Fehr",
year = "2011",
month = jun,
day = "22",
doi = "10.1098/rspb.2010.2125",
language = "English",
volume = "278",
pages = "1858--1863",
journal = "Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences",
issn = "0962-8452",
publisher = "The Royal Society",
number = "1713",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Wrath of God: Religious primes and punishment

AU - McKay, Ryan

AU - Efferson, Charles

AU - Whitehouse, Harvey

AU - Fehr, Ernst

PY - 2011/6/22

Y1 - 2011/6/22

N2 - Recent evidence indicates that priming participants with religious concepts promotes prosocial sharing behaviour. In the present study, we investigated whether religious priming also promotes the costly punishment of unfair behaviour. A total of 304 participants played a punishment game. Before thepunishment stage began, participants were subliminally primed with religion primes, secular punishment primes or control primes. We found that religious primes strongly increased the costly punishment of unfair behaviours for a subset of our participants—those who had previously donated to a religious organization. We discuss two proximate mechanisms potentially underpinning this effect. The first is a ‘supernatural watcher’ mechanism, whereby religious participants punish unfair behaviours when primed because they sense that not doing so will enrage or disappoint an observing supernatural agent. The second is a ‘behavioural priming’ mechanism, whereby religious primes activate culturalnorms pertaining to fairness and its enforcement and occasion behaviour consistent with those norms. We conclude that our results are consistent with dual inheritance proposals about religion and cooperation, whereby religions harness the byproducts of genetically inherited cognitive mechanisms in ways that enhance the survival prospects of their adherents.

AB - Recent evidence indicates that priming participants with religious concepts promotes prosocial sharing behaviour. In the present study, we investigated whether religious priming also promotes the costly punishment of unfair behaviour. A total of 304 participants played a punishment game. Before thepunishment stage began, participants were subliminally primed with religion primes, secular punishment primes or control primes. We found that religious primes strongly increased the costly punishment of unfair behaviours for a subset of our participants—those who had previously donated to a religious organization. We discuss two proximate mechanisms potentially underpinning this effect. The first is a ‘supernatural watcher’ mechanism, whereby religious participants punish unfair behaviours when primed because they sense that not doing so will enrage or disappoint an observing supernatural agent. The second is a ‘behavioural priming’ mechanism, whereby religious primes activate culturalnorms pertaining to fairness and its enforcement and occasion behaviour consistent with those norms. We conclude that our results are consistent with dual inheritance proposals about religion and cooperation, whereby religions harness the byproducts of genetically inherited cognitive mechanisms in ways that enhance the survival prospects of their adherents.

U2 - 10.1098/rspb.2010.2125

DO - 10.1098/rspb.2010.2125

M3 - Article

VL - 278

SP - 1858

EP - 1863

JO - Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences

JF - Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological sciences

SN - 0962-8452

IS - 1713

ER -